Saturday, January 31, 2009

the last evening in January

Friday, January 30, 2009

the art of living

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.
-- Tal Te Ching

Thursday, January 29, 2009


The ancients say that one upon a time a disciple asked the elder, "Holy One, is there anything I can do to make myself Enlightened?"
And the Holy One answered, "As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning."
"Then of what use," the surprised disciple asked, "are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?"
"To make sure," the elder said, "that you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

be yourself

Often we want to be somewhere other than where we are, or even to be someone other than who we are. We tend to compare ourselves constantly with others and wonder why we are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as generous, or as saintly as they are. Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous. It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now.

We will never find our vocations by trying to figure out whether we are better or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do. Be yourself!

--  Henri Nouwen Society 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

attaining God

"What action shall I perform to attain God?" the disciple asked the elder.
"If you wish to attain God," the elder said, "there are two things you must know. The first is that all efforts to attain God are of no avail."
"And the second?" the disciple insisted.
"The second is that you must act as if you did not know the first," the elder said.

Monday, January 26, 2009


At the root of obedience is the free, humble, loving surrender to the will of God; the willing obedience which says "Yes" with our whole person to the infinite love of God, so that outward observance springs from inward assent, a bending of our free will towards the will of Christ, which will finally make us collaborators with him.
-- Esther de Waal  Seeking God:  The Way of St. Benedict

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beaver Lake Lutheran Church, Maplewood, MN

Beaver Lake is one of the congregations where I have the privilege of filling in when Pastor Charlie is gone. Great people, beautiful sanctuary, wonderful pipe organ.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

where should we go?

Once upon a time, an ancient monastic tale says, the Elder said to the businessperson:
"As the fish perishes on dry land, so you perish when you get entangled in the world. The fish must return to the water and you must return to the Spirit."
And the businessperson was aghast. "Are you saying that I must give up my business and go into a monastery?" the person asked.
And the Elder said, "Definitely not. I am telling you to hold on to your business and go into your heart."
-- Joan Chittister, OSB  "Wisdom Distilled from the Daily"

Friday, January 23, 2009

the sun on a foggy morning

Yours is the day and yours is the night.
It was you who appointed the light and the sun;
-- Psalm 74:16  (Grail)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

By the breath of God frost is given
-- Job 37:10

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

a new beginning

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I have swept away your sins like mist
-- Isaiah 44:22

Saturday, January 17, 2009

obedience & trust

Esther de Waal writing about the Rule of St. Benedict in Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict:
"This Rule is not meant to be a burden for you. It should help you to discover and experience how great is the freedom to which you are called." 
But freedom for what? 
"To be able to do in the depths of your heart what you really want to do" was what Thomas Merton told his novices at Gethsemani. He went on to speak to them of getting in touch with that deep inner centre, using terms which have much in common with what stability involves, "my being, my reality, what God has willed for me." 
The part played by obedience becomes clear as he continues, "being able to will what God wills for me at every moment is what keeps me in touch with that centre: that reality is the will of God and it demands response. I have to choose, in everything I do, in relation to this. I must keep contact with this centre of freedom." Perhaps that choice will be very difficult. It may feel like panic at the impossible demand, it may feel like a choice between two evils.
Then the only possible prayer is the one that the novice makes at his profession, quoting psalm 119. 
"Uphold me, O Lord, as you have promised, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope."
The only hope at this point is to throw myself on the support of God, relying on the protecting nearness to the God of the psalms who reaches out to me just as I felt that I could go no further.  For obedience is a risky business. It is much easier to talk about it than to act it out. It means being prepared to take my life in my hands and place it in the hands of God.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Be Still and Know

As I was wondering today how I am going to accomplish all I need to do -- where am I going to find the time -- I read Diane Nelson's essay Be Still and Know  -- it calmed me down and got me to thinking about the many things I do which are neither necessary or worthwhile. You may find Nelson's commentary helpful in your life as well.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

stubborn hearts

My people did not listen to my voice.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels.
-- Psalm 81:11-12

Monday, January 12, 2009


Spirituality is more than churchgoing. It is possible to go to church and never develop a spirituality at all. Spirituality is the way in which we express a living faith in a real world. Spirituality is the sum total of the attitudes and actions that define our life of faith.
-- Joan Chittister, OSB  Wisdom Distilled From The Daily

Sunday, January 11, 2009

We have a new abbot!

The Blue Cloud Abbey community has elected a new abbot , Denis Quinkert, OSB. As many of you know, I am an oblate of St. Benedict through Blue Cloud Abbey . Let us remember Abbot Denis in our prayers as well as the monks & priests he will serve.

I once was lost, but now am found ...

When he has found the lost sheep, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 
-- Luke 15:5

Saturday, January 10, 2009

sailing with Jesus

All ships have a compass which, when touched by the magnet, always turns towards the polar star. And even when the boat is making its way in a southward direction yet the compass does not cease turning towards its north at all times.

In the same way, let the fine point of your spirit always turn towards God, its north... You are about to take to the high seas of the world; don't on this account alter dial or mast, sail or anchor or wind. Keep Jesus Christ as your dial at all times, his cross for mast on which to hoist your resolutions as a sail. Let your anchor be profound trust in him and set out early. May the propitious wind of heavenly inspirations ever fill the sails of your vessel more and more and cause you to speed forward to the harbor of a holy eternity...

Should everything turn upside down, I don't say around us but within us, that is to say, should our soul be sad, happy, in sweetness, in bitterness, peaceful, troubled, in light, in darkness, in temptation, in rest, in enjoyment, in disgust, in dryness, in gentleness, should the sun burn it or the dew refresh it, ah!, this point of our heart, our spirit, our higher will, which is our compass, should nevertheless always and at all times turn unceasingly, tend perpetually towards the love of God.

-- Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Bishop of Geneva

Friday, January 09, 2009


The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, 
which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.
-- Rule of St. Benedict

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Yours is the day and yours is the night.
It was you who appointed the light and the sun;
it was you who fixed the bounds of the earth;
you who made both summer and winter.
-- Psalm 74:16-17 (Grail)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I am a fairly good judge of character, 
tho' sometimes I've been wrong.
But I have never been wrong or regretful 
for extending the love of God to anyone.

--  Diane Nelson  Captivating Woman 

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

grasses in winter

Monday, January 05, 2009

Heal my soul!

Grant me a clear sign, purify my hidden faults, for my secret wounds are undermining me... I fall at your knees, O Savior, like the woman with the flow of blood. I, too, seize hold of the fringe of your garment, saying: "If I but touch it, I shall be saved" (Mk 5:28). Do not disappoint my faith, O healer of souls...; I shall find you for my own salvation, you who have appeared and illumined all things.

-- Saint Romanos Melodios (?-c.560), composer of hymns 

Sunday, January 04, 2009

the presence of God

The person who prays for the presence of God is, ironically, already in the presence of God. The person who seeks God has already found God to some extent. ... A dull, mundane life stays a dull, mundane life, no matter how intent we become on developing spiritually. No amount of church-going will change that. What attention to the spiritual life does change is our appreciation for the presence of God in our dull, mundane lives. We come to realize that we did not find God; God finally got our attention. The spiritual life is a grace with which we must cooperate, not a prize to be captured or a trophy to be won.
-- Joan Chittister  The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages

Saturday, January 03, 2009

prayer for God's love

O God, you are my God whom I eagerly seek;
for you my flesh longs and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless, and without water.
I have gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory.
For your love is better than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
-- Psalm 63:1-3

Friday, January 02, 2009

pray for justice

Pray for justice -- pray for a mother -- pray for her child!

The LORD saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no one,
and was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm brought him victory,
and his righteousness upheld him.
-- Isaiah 59:15-16

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's resolution

Whatever is true,
Whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is pleasing,
whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence and 
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
-- Philippians 4:8

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